The People In The Room

This is a capture of the pieces sent out on Friday mornings in 2020 & 2021 when an ETEC Virtual Meeting was not held. These are authored primarily by Jim Campbell, ETEC President. However, guest posts are welcome. To feature your ~500 word article, please email Nicole. Articles are listed with the most recent on top.

The People in the Room: Forever Changed

by Tracy Boatner | September 3, 2021

One year ago this week, my life was forever changed. My father, Carson Sandefur, was Knox County’s COVID-19 death #59. But to my family, he was so much more than a number, statistic, or case count. He was a U.S. Army veteran, daddy, grandpa, husband, and friend. He enjoyed playing golf, volunteering at Habitat for Humanity Restore a few times a week, and serving as an Elder at his church. At age 81, he was still very active, walking three miles and doing 250 push-ups every day. Even after moving to a condo with no yard work, he could often be found mowing an empty lot to keep the neighborhood looking nice. Then, on September 1, 2020, he was gone. Because of the hospital’s COVID restrictions, I was not allowed to see him, hold his hand, or even say, “I love you” before he died. Read More


The People in the Room: Visitors Are Welcome

by Jim Campbell | May 28, 2021

Each year thousands of people come to visit Oak Ridge. In our last economic impact study, done in 2017, we counted over 50,000 visitors to our science and national security facilities. This figure includes business, education, and science-related visitors. Before COVID, the number of visitors was poised to grow as Heritage Tourism is set to increase with announcements of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the Oak Ridge History Museum, K-25 History Center, and the renewed American Museum of Science and Energy. It’s going to come back as we re-open our places of work. We like visitors. They are good for our economy. Read More


The People in the Room: Difference Makers

by Jim Campbell | April 2, 2021

At ETEC’s March Board meeting last Friday, Thomas Zacharia, director of ORNL, representing UT-Battelle, and UCOR chief of staff Joe Aylor, also representing Amentum, told us about several investments their companies are making to improve our community. They are important investments in economic development and education. Read More


The People in the Room: Focusing on ETEC’s Mission in a Different Working Environment

by Jim Campbell | December 18, 2020

A month or so ago, using last year’s Christmas present from my son-in-law, I drove up to the Smokies on a Tuesday morning to meet a fishing guide that was supposed to show me how to fish the mountain streams in the park. It was cold, in the 40s outside, with a brisk wind. I later learned the hard way that the water temperature was 42 degrees. Trout like cold water. Not that cold. Read More


The People in the Room: Days During the Virus

By: Jim Campbell | September 4, 2020

Labor Day week is usually the last few quiet days of summer before we sprint to the years’ end. This week is different, and it’s been hard on us. Right now, the federal employees and their contractors are finishing out their fiscal year and prepping for FY2021. Most of them are still working remotely. Congress will go back to work next week hopefully putting together a continuing resolution that allows the work here to persist. Politics continue. The 2020 election will be significant. Read More

Oak Ridge’s History Illustrates What America Can Do When We Work Together

By: David Keim | August 5, 2020

Tomorrow is 75 years since Paul Tibbets piloted the B-29 Enola Gay over Hiroshima, Japan, and dropped the first atomic bomb used in war. Uranium for that bomb came from the Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where I worked before moving to Oak Ridge National Lab, which had its own role in the Manhattan Project. Stories exploring the development of nuclear weapons, their devastating use, and their ongoing existence will continue to be published through this 75th anniversary week. Sober reflection and public policy debate are necessary, and I’d encourage you to read and watch stories and commentary of interest to you. Read More


The People in the Room: Freedom & Oak Ridge

By: Jim Campbell | July 3, 2020

This week I re-read two of our nation’s most sacred documents: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. They aren’t long, but they say a lot. Recommended reading for all members of ETEC and really everyone. They talk about freedom. Freedom for the people to govern themselves. Freedom to worship how they wanted to worship and to pursue happiness. They talk about equality and justice. Read More


The People in the Room: Don & Donna

By: Jim Campbell | May 22, 2020

Don Maxwell and his young family came to Oak Ridge from Aiken, S.C., in the early 1970s at a time when the newly incorporated city of Oak Ridge was stepping up to a whole new series of challenges. The Atomic Energy Commission was shutting down. In its place would be the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a new strange organization called the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA). ERDA didn’t last long and became the Department of Energy a few years later. How were ORNL, ORAU, and the gaseous diffusion enterprise going to fit into this new picture? Where was Y-12’s mission delineated in any of the above? Read More


The People in the Room: Wayne Clark

By: Jim Campbell | April 10, 2020

For the last three or four years, an older gentleman came to our Friday morning meetings just to listen. He never mingled much. Just listened. Learned. Wayne Clark is now 97 years old, and he’s struggling. It’s hard on those of us who consider him to be a friend because we can’t go see him…not at the hospital where he’s been admitted several times in the past few weeks, nor at NHC where he is convalescing. I’d like to tell him, remind him perhaps is a better term, that he did good. He lived well. Read More


The People in the Room: The Ongoing ETEC Missions

By: Jim Campbell | March 20, 2020

This week I took a refresher training at Y-12 that allows me to continue to have access to that site. Part of the training was to review what to do in light of different kinds of emergencies that could happen. None of the scenarios described talked about pandemics. We are in unchartered territory these days. Read More